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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

206                                  Law
procedure developing, a procedure which may be described as
a deterioration and which was later abolished. A god was made
the judge in the action and his will was ascertained by cere-
monies which it is difficult for us to understand, and which
possibly consisted of rhythmical dances. Take, for instance, the
case of a man whose garments have been stolen. He would
appeal to King Amenophis I, who had been long dead and who
was worshipped as a god. A list of all the inhabitants of the
village was read aloud before a statue of the deified king.
Upon the reading of one name the god would make a sign
to indicate that this was the thief. The person indicated would
deny the accusation and appeal to another god, who might also
decide against him. He would then continue to deny every-
thing, but might be condemned again by Amenophis. There-
upon he would be beaten until he confessed and swore never
to repudiate his confession. Judgements rendered by a god have
existed in many nations at various times; but it would appear
that the Egyptians of the Nineteenth and following dynasties
made the most consistent attempt to build up a whole law of
procedure upon the omniscience of the deity.
Criminal law and criminal procedure were inhuman. In con*
trast to the Jewish law which limited corporal punishment to
forty strokes, one hundred strokes was the ordinary punishment
in Egypt. Torture was often used, not only upon the accused
but also upon independent witnesses. Strange forms of capital
punishment seem to have been practised, such as leaving the
prisoner to be eaten by crocodiles. It was a special favour to
allow a convicted criminal to commit suicide. Numbers of
criminals, with their ears and noses cut ofi, were condemned to
forced labour in concentration colonies on the frontiers of the
country. A thief furthermore had to pay a multiple of the value
of the stolen chattel—a penalty which also can be paralleled in
the Code of Hammurabi and in the oldest Roman law.
We further possess treaties dealing with international law.